In this 2021/22 FPL tips series, @FPLTIPZ looks at the best FPL differential defenders in Gameweek 1. These Fantasy Premier League differentials are all under 10% owned at the time of writing.

Best FPL Differential Defenders | Timothy Castagne (£5.5m, 4% TSB)

Out of Leicester’s defenders, Timothy Castagne stands out for being able to combine both attacking threat with potential defensive form.

Leicester City narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification again last season but were strong performers for the duration. They also won the FA Cup.

One of the reasons for this was their defensive performance. Though they only kept 11 clean sheets, they were fifth-highest for expected clean sheets last season. Leicester defenders have plenty of potential going into the 2021/22 season.

On top of this, Leicester have a good set of opening fixtures. Wolves and Manchester City are dovetailed with away matches against West Ham, Norwich and Brighton.

Leicester kept a clean sheet against all of these teams last season except for Norwich (who weren’t in the league) and Man City.

Last season, Castagne had six attacking returns in 27 starts. That’s more than any other Leicester defender, as well having the best attacking return per start rate.

Castagne also had the highest expected attacking returns per start of all of Leicester’s defenders, with 0.7. These underlying stats suggest that these returns are sustainable.

Castagne returns these numbers by combining both goal threat and assist potential. According to our OPTA FPL tool, the Belgian registers 0.11 big chances per game and makes 0.81 key passes per game.

Finally, Castagne finished the season very well with a goal and an assist in the final seven matches. If the defender can take this form into the start of the season, he could be a fantastic differential at just 4.0% owned.

Best fantasy premier league differentials

Leicester defenders expected attacking points per start 2020/21 season

Best FPL Differential Defenders | Ezri Konsa (£5.0m, 1.3% TSB)

Ezri Konsa has seen a price increase up to £5.0m this season, but he still looks a solid FPL differential this season.

Aston Villa kept the third most clean sheets with 15 last season, only behind Manchester City and Chelsea. At first glance, Matt Targett (£5.0m) stands out as being the best Aston Villa option for Fantasy Premier League managers.

Last season Targett returned the most attacking contributions among Villa defenders (4). However, Konsa scored two goals in 35 starts and largely underperformed.

Konsa had 22 shots last season, ranking ninth amongst FPL defenders priced £5.0m. He also amassed an expected goals of 3.43, which is second for this set of defenders. Indeed, only Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) did better.

Despite that, Konsa actually beats Dunk on big chances (7) compared to the Brighton defender’s 5.

the best fpl differential defenders

Expected goals for defenders priced £5.0 and under

On top of this, the Hub Fixture Ticker ranks Aston Villa second for the easiest defensive fixtures over the first five gameweeks. They have Newcastle, Brentford and Everton at home as well as Watford and Chelsea away.

This run has two newly promoted teams as well as Newcastle and Everton, both of which rank in the bottom half for goals scored last season.

Combined with the attacking threat that Konsa evidently possesses, the Aston Villa central defender is a good differential and potentially a better option over other more highly owned defenders such as Targett or Vladimir Coufal (£5.0m) of West Ham.

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Best FPL Differential Defenders | Ben Chilwell (£6.0m, 9.7% TSB)

Ben Chilwell comes in at just under 10% owned, having returned 5.15 points per start last season.

This return puts Chilwell first amongst all Chelsea players last season, and second amongst defenders. Only John Stones (£5.5m) did better.

The reason for this is the strong defensive form of Chelsea with the attacking threat that the full back has shown. His three goals and six assists last season but him third amongst attacking returns from defenders: only behind Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) had more.

If Chilwell can continue to get a run in the Chelsea side, he could have a huge 2021/22 season. Being picked in 27 from a possible 35 matches where he was available for selection bodes well.

Best differential fpl defenders

Defenders expected points per start 2020/21 season

Chelsea do have a difficult opening set of fixtures with Crystal Palace at home in the opening gameweek being followed by Aston Villa at home as well as Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs away.

However, despite having a difficult set of opening fixtures, Chelsea have the second highest predicted clean sheets in the opening 5 gameweeks with 2.2 on the Hub Fixture Ticker.

Only Man City – who kept the most clean sheets last season – have a stronger chance of clean sheets.

This means, especially given the potential for decreased rotation at Chelsea given no Champions League matches this early in the season, that Chilwell has good potential to combine both clean sheet points with attacking returns.

This will be the first part of the preseason differential series – feel free to message me any questions – Twitter or Youtube – @FPLTIPZ

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